EAUH Conference 2018


Session SS21. Sailors and Citizens: the Culture of Everyday Life in European Port Cities from the 18th the 20th century

Coordinators: Yiannis Kokkinakis (, Kirill Nazarenko (

The long nineteenth century marked people’s everyday life in Europe and beyond through the many structural changes occurring at every level, be it political, economic, social, technological or institutional. Sailors and port dwellers were among those who not only experienced the changes shaping modern and contemporary societies, but may be considered agents of them. The transition from sail to steam and the industrialization of the secondary sector were among the main phenomena that primarily took place in port cities, affecting traditional sectors such as shipbuilding, maritime trade and shipping, as well as the auxiliary trades. The advent of steam navigation introduced new types of professions both on board and ashore, and a new type of organization for shipping enterprises. Working with new materials and processing methods necessitated new knowledge from new types of professions, including engineers, boiler makers and so on, which led to industrialized shipbuilding. Steam navigation companies needed agents and offices in ports, and a type of staff previously unknown to the shipping industry. The industrialization of port cities led to the necessities of technological change. These processes took place in parallel with changes in the borders between states, and policies introduced by national legislatures to stimulate domestic trade and suppress foreign shipping. The development of navies also influenced the situation. Thanks to the regularity that only steamers could offer, the introduction of passenger shipping transformed the lifestyle of ordinary people and linked many previously distant places in a sustained manner. It also introduced a new type of business organization, which was more demanding in terms of capital, management and employees. All these processes influenced sailors themselves, their families and citizens as a whole, altering the rhythms and patterns of their everyday life.
The aim of this session is to consider the culture of everyday life in European port cities from the 18th to the 20th century. We invite papers examining specific examples of port cities directly or indirectly impacted by changes in shipping, shipbuilding and trade routes.
The session should consider the following problems in the overall context of the topic:
1. The transition from traditional to industrial society
2. The transition from sail to steam
3. Changes in trade routes and goods
4. Changes in boundaries due to political processes and access to the seas of new countries
5. Cultural and everyday changes
6. The extent to which local businesses depended on sea ports
Papers could be built on network theories, innovative methodological approaches, interdisciplinary and comparative research. We invite work that considers questions of economy, transport networks, social structures, and ideological problems concerning the changing world of sea ports and maritime trade routes.
Keywords: sailors; citizens; sea trade; shipbuilding; shipping; everyday life